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31.05.2019 Europe

French parcel bomb suspect pledged allegiance to IS

By RFI
PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP
MAY 31, 2019 EUROPE

An Algerian suspected of setting off a package bomb in southeast France last week has told investigators that he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State jihadist group.

The 24-year-old man, identified as Mohamed Hichem M., was arrested on Monday following an extensive manhunt in the wake of last Friday's explosion, in which 13 people were injured on a busy pedestrian street in Lyon.

Sources close to the case said that after initially refusing to talk, the suspect admitted to planting the bomb, packed with screws and ball bearings and a relatively small amount of acetone peroxide, or APEX.

Acetone peroxide is the compound used in the Paris terror attacks of November 13, 2015.

The Islamic State group has been behind several of the attacks, though police initially said no one had claimed responsibility for the Lyon blast.

The suspect's brother was also arrested and is still being questioned by anti-terror investigators in Paris, although the parents of the two suspects were released from custody on Thursday.

A search of the man's home had already turned up "elements likely to be used for making APEX," one source told AFP, and searches of his computers pointed to internet searches related to jihadism and bomb-building.

Thirteen people were wounded in the blast -- eight women, four men and a 10-year-old girl.

The package was placed in front of a bakery near the corner of two crowded pedestrian streets in the centre of Lyon last Friday evening.

Video surveillance cameras led police to identify the man after he fled the scene on a bicycle.

He was arrested while getting off a bus in a suburb just south of the city.

Lyon Mayor Gerard Collomb said this week that the suspect had not previously come to police attention.

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